In what could be a sign that the U.S. economy is recovering, credit unions are seeing lending outpace savings for the first time since 2007.
The Credit Union National Association reported Wednesday that credit unions saw loan balances rise 6.8 percent last year, up from 4.8 percent in 2012.
Meanwhile, growth in members' savings slowed down, with savings growing 4.3 percent in 2013 compared with 6.1 percent one year earlier.
Pent-up demand for autos helped contribute to the uptick in loans, according to Steve Rick, a senior economist with CUNA.
Rick said in a statement that pent-up demand for cars, furniture, appliances and other things that people have foregone buying will help grow credit unions' loan balances in the next two years.
CUNA expects loan balances to rise 7 percent this year. It expects credit union savings balances to grow 4 percent.
"On the savings side of the balance sheet, members continue to look for safe, short-term liquid deposit accounts," Rick said in the statement.
He notes that credit union membership is expected to cross the 100 million threshold sometime midyear. More people have been turning to credit unions in recent years, attracted by often lower fees than banks.
Have you taken out a new loan recently?
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